Sports betting often brings to mind high-risk situations, extensive knowledge, and thought-out strategy. So, one can safely assume a large percentage of sports fans are hesitant to venture into that world, even with the Supreme Court’s recent legalization of sports gambling, due to fears of losing money or not having the comprehensive knowledge needed to be successful.
Australian entrepreneur Matt Bailey understood that and created GameOn — a free sports prediction app — in an attempt to change that perception. The app, which launched last week with an investment from Pacific Atlantic Ventures, is designed for the casual sports fan, something that differs from existing sports-betting platforms.
When building the app, Bailey kept in mind his personal experience of moving to America as a sports fan five years ago.
“I consider myself a pretty hardcore sports fan, but when I moved here and saw new sports and new players, I suddenly considered myself a more casual fan because I didn’t have the education that came from growing up with those sports,” he explained.
“I tried to play fantasy [football] and sucked at it. It took so much time, I lost every time and it was such a terrible experience, so I wondered why isn’t there a platform that’s simpler, easier, with a low education barrier, and more driven towards casual fans. Then we came up with GameOn.”
GameOn is free, which allows people to play without financial risk, and pays out cash prizes between $100 and $100,000 dollars. To play, fans make a series of predictions ahead of a game. From there, they can either sit back and see how their picks play out or select riskier options throughout the game in an attempt to receive double points.
If someone is lucky (or smart) enough to make a series of perfect picks, they will win the $100,000 cash prize – something Bailey says was inspired by Warren Buffet’s billion-dollar March Madness bracket challenge.
The app’s simplicity and accessibility was demonstrated during its launch during Thursday’s 49ers and Raiders clash, where Bailey’s sister, an Australian millennial who knows nothing about the NFL, was at the top of the leaderboard for the first part of the game.
“That’s really what it’s all about,” said Bailey. “It’s casual-fan friendly.”
Bailey’s background is in brand partnerships, where he worked with companies like LeadDog Marketing Group and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. Tapping into his experience, he brought on Burger King and Motorola as GameOn’s first partners.
“Both were looking to be involved with sports, but didn’t really have the budgets to compete with brands in their space that have the official partnerships. So we were an interesting opportunity for them to be a part of sports on an emerging platform in a way that doesn’t break the bank,” explained Bailey.
Along with being backed by Pacific Atlantic Ventures, GameOn is also participating in global sports data leader Sportradar’s ‘Acceleradar’ program for early-stage startups and is working with top industry advisors — including Shauna Griffiths, an SBJ Game Changer and SVP at LeadDog Marketing Group.
The investment and launch of GameOn comes at a perfect time as the interest in sports betting is on the rise. According to the American Gaming Association, the U.S. market for sports betting is set to be worth $150 billion. Following last week’s official launch, Bailey expects the strong success the app saw in beta to translate at scale.
“After testing the concept with over 600-plus entries and 4,000-plus picks, while currently in beta, we’re seeing 33 percent-plus of our installed user base making picks daily (DAUs) — and only nine percent of players cited their team playing was a motivator. In other words, fans are hooked by the ease of casual play, free entry and cash prizes versus playing to follow a favorite team,” he said.
That level of engagement was something that was exciting for both brand partners and investors. Appealing to an underserved demographic of fans, GameOn is positioned for success in the increasingly competitive sports betting and prediction space.